Drivers are taking massive risks and endangering their lives, and those of other road users, says Merseyside's fire chief.
Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Steve Pang was speaking after latest figures from Merseyside Road Safety Partnership revealed that driving offences involving drugs the region reached record figures during the December/Christmas period.
Figures from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) show that 136 drivers in the region tested positive for drug driving during December 2017, compared to 89 during the same period in 2016. 1,248 drug driving arrests which were recorded, a 50 per cemt increase on the previous figure of 801 offences in 2016.
Since the introduction of roadside drug testing in 2015 in Merseyside, 2,368 drivers have been arrested for drug driving, an average of 75 detections a month.
Overall since 2014, there has been a 400 per cent increase across the region in the number of drug drive detections.
Drink driving offences increased during the December/Christmas period, following a fall in the number of offences between 2014 -16. 125 drivers were stopped during the Christmas period, compared to 111 for the same period in 2016.
The areas which saw which saw the most arrests for drink or drug driving were Knowsley, Central Liverpool and Sefton.
Rebecca Power, coordinator for Merseyside Road Safety Partnership, said: 'Drug driving is clearly becoming a very serious problem in Merseyside, not only during Christmas period but throughout the rest of the year. This is just as irresponsible as those driving under the influence of alcohol; they put lives at risk, including their own, in exactly the same way.
'It's important we target this issue, particularly as many drivers may mistakenly believe they are less likely to be caught drug driving than drink driving. With the detection methods now available this is no longer the case.'
Casualty Reduction Officer Paul Mountford from the Roads Policing Unit at Merseyside Police said: “It is disappointing that we have seen an increase in motorists arrested for drug and drink driving. While they represent a small minority of drivers, I cannot stress enough the danger that these people present, not just to themselves, but to other road users too.
“The consequences of being caught can be life-changing, we will remain vigilant throughout 2018 to find those drivers who present a risk to other road users.”
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager Steve Pang said: “The latest figures are very concerning and show that drivers are taking massive risks which endanger both the lives of themselves and other road users. We fully support our partner agencies in taking a zero tolerance approach to both drug and drink driving.”